‘Demonstrate neutrality’: Congress welcomes Facebook’s India leadership change
The Congress on Wednesday asked Facebook to demonstrate its neutrality with a thorough revamp of its institutional processes, and also outline steps taken to curb the “spread of false, polarising and hate content” on its platform.
It welcomed the change in Facebook India’s leadership team after the resignation of its head of policy, Ankhi Das, but added the matter will not be resolved by just changing one individual.
The Congress in August wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and called for an inquiry into a report suggesting the social media company was biased towards the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in censoring hate speech.
In his letter, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal asked Zuckerberg to set up a high-level inquiry into the Facebook India leadership team and their operations and suggested the appointment of a new team to lead the India operations till the inquiry is completed.
“As India’s oldest political party that fought for the nation’s freedom and established electoral democracy through the adult franchise, it is deeply disturbing to note that your company may be a willing participant in thwarting the very rights and values that our founding leaders sacrificed their lives for,” he wrote.
The Wall Street Journal report in August suggested Facebook was going easy on hate speeches by BJP members and triggered a controversy. The report cited interviews with unnamed Facebook insiders and claimed Das intervened in internal content review processes to stop a ban on BJP’s Telangana lawmaker Raja Singh, whose posts targeted the Muslim community. It said Das told staff members that punishing violations by BJP politicians would damage the company’s business prospects.
On Wednesday, Venugopal said Facebook must ensure foolproof checks and balances, which cannot be tinkered by an individual’s whims and political leanings.
“It must also outline the steps taken to curb false, polarising and hate news or content, spread rampantly on its platform, threatening India’s social harmony,” he added.
The Congress had also demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe into the entire matter.